The Althoff Crusaders added a valuable player to their roster Friday and had to look no further than their own bench.
Junior point guard Keenen Young, who sat out the first 19 games while dealing with a foot fracture, returned on Friday for the Crusaders’ South Seven Conference road game against Mount Vernon. He finished with eight points in a 66-53 victory that pushed Althoff’s record to 18-2, shaking off some rust in the process.
“I was very pleased because the poor guy had been sitting out,” Althoff coach Greg Leib said. “He helped us finish the game out because he’s smart with the ball and makes good decisions. To have him back in that capacity is just such an added luxury. Now the big thing is getting his game and his body up to speed, but I thought he did a really good job.”
Young suffered his injury right at the start of basketball practice, but the emergence of sophomore guards C.J. Coldon (8.1 points per game) and Edwyn Brown (2.4 ppg) helped lessen the impact of his absence. So did the three-headed scoring monster that includes sophomore Jordan Goodwin (19.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game) and juniors Brendon Gooch (14.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, 29 3-pointers) and Tarkus Ferguson (13.4 ppg, 31 3-pointers).
“The reps that C.J. Coldon and Edwyn Brown got out of necessity were just invaluable to us,” Leib said. “Hopefully that makes us a deeper and better team down the stretch, and now we add Keenen to that mix.”
Althoff is adding Young at the start of a tough stretch that includes Belleville East on Tuesday, conference rival and Class 3A sixth-ranked Carbondale (19-3) on Friday and Westchester St. Joseph (16-4), the second-ranked 3A team in the state, on Saturday at the Bank of O’Fallon Shootout.
Althoff is ranked fifth in the state.
“He looked like it was his first game, a little bit apprehensive,” Leib said of Young, a top receiving recruit in football. “With every day and every week he’s just going to be that much stronger as he gets the speed of his game up. He’s got some fresh legs and some good basketball ahead of him.”
Leib said Young was getting antsy to get back on the court on a full-time basis.
“We had him do stats, everything but film,” Leib said. “He was a good teammate and has been there for all the guys. It was tough being on that bench as competitive as he is.”
Big day for hoops in O’Fallon
Ticket sales are brisk for Saturday’s Bank of O’Fallon Shootout. Being able to showcase some great individual talent and great local and regional teams, including Chaminade College Prep and its 6-foot-9 All-American Jayson Tatum, has done nothing but fire up even more interest.
Tatum is considered the top junior recruit in the nation by Scout.com and several other recruiting services.
The O’Fallon Panther Dome may hold a little over 3,000 fans with standing-room-only, O’Fallon assistant athletic director Cory Patton said.
“I think we’re going to be sold out, I really do,” he said. “Right now half the tickets have been sodld right now and that’s not knowing what each of the schools has sold.”
Tickets are $10 for an all-day pass and available at the Bank of O’Fallon (901 S. Lincoln) and C and C Sports (115 N. Lincoln), both in O’Fallon, during normal business hours. Patton said the bank sold out its first allotment of 600 tickets and he recently provided 400 more.
Tickets will also be available at the gate beginning at 11:15 a.m. Saturday. The schedule includes Columbia vs. Morris at 12:15 p.m., Vianney vs. Kaneland at 1:45 p.m., Collinsville vs. Normal at 3:15 p.m., Althoff vs. Westchester St. Joseph at 5:15 p.m., O’Fallon vs. Bolingbrook at 6:45 p.m. and East St. Louis vs. Chaminade in the 8:15 p.m. finale.
“We’re excited,” Patton said. “There’s so much talk about the event, just regular fans discussing it. Althoff-St. Joe’s might be the best game of the day, that’s No. 2 vs. No. 5 in the state.”
Six of 12 teams are state-ranked and Chaminade is ranked 24th in the country.
Patton said O’Fallon already has 13 teams contracted for its shootout next year, including Westchester St. Joseph, Althoff, St. Rita, Hinsdale South, Centralia, Carbondale and Nashville. Chaminade is another strong possibility to return.
Remaining unbeaten in conference play, both East St. Louis and Nashville maintained their tight grips on the top spots in the weekly Belleville News-Democrat Boys Basketball Rankings.
East St. Louis (14-5) hammered Belleville East 96-66 Friday in its first game under interim coach Hank Harris and moved to 9-0 in the Southwestern Conference. Nashville (22-2) rolled over Anna-Jonesboro and has been the class of the Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference’s Mississippi Division all season.
Nashville’s only two losses are to Columbia and Teutopolis.